For young musicians, finding a group to play with can be hard to do. When musicians want a change from just participating in a school group, they may want to find another outlet. The Walla Walla Symphony has a solution.
Budding musicians in grades 8 to 12 have the opportunity to practice and perform in the Walla Walla Symphony Youth Orchestra (WWSYO) with other musicians from eastern Washington and northern Oregon.
“It’s an excellent experience for uprising youth in the valley. Plus, it’s fun. We play good music,” said junior Kelsey Gabel, who has played viola with the WWSYO since 2008.
Though advertised as an orchestra, all instruments are invited to auditions, which were held on Oct. 22 and 23 of this year. Auditions included a one minute solo piece, which the students had to prepare and a short sight reading test. Students can still set up an audition by contacting the orchestra manager Ashley Akacich.
This year, the orchestra welcomes a new conductor Dr. Jeremy Mims. “He’s really cool, very experienced,” said freshman Jennifer Cho, who has played the violin with the youth symphony for two years.
Before he came to Walla Walla, Mims was employed in El Paso, Texas, and Kansas City at different times. There, he conducted and performed with various choirs, orchestras and other musical groups. He is also a piano and violin musician and currently conducts the Whitman chamber choir as well as the Youth Symphony while teaching conducting.
In addition to joining the WWSYO, Mims has changed the weekly rehearsal time from Sunday afternoons at the Walla Walla Valley Academy to Monday evenings at Garrison Middle School. “Students seem to really like Dr. Mims. Many of them stayed after our first rehearsal to chat with him and are very excited about this season,” Akacich said.
The first concert was the Feast of Carols on Dec 4. This was the first time the group performed at Cordiner Hall. They played a “Christmas at the Movies” medley along with a string piece called “Pat-a-pan.” Their next concert will be on Feb. 5 at Wa-Hi.
“My goals this year are to make beautiful music with students, to move beyond what they think they can be,” Mims said. “And, I have the best seat in the house.”